The Blog

I froze my credit. How about you??


Brrrr, it’s cold in here.

I just finished freezing my credit, how about you??

I’ve learned a bit about my credit, and what I can do to protect it, over the past couple of weeks. What seemed like a non event to me, turned into a bit of a journey. Click on the video to learn more, and check out the links below for resources aplenty to help you figure out what’s the best route for you to take to protect your identity from the cyber crooks out there.

First things first: Get free copies of your credit reports. Just to be clear, these are not your credit scores, but the actual reports.  Click here to get copies of your credit reports from the 3 largest credit bureaus. I saved mine as PDF’s and then moved on to…

Step 2: Freeze your credit accounts.  Be prepared, the credit bureaus don’t make it easy, they want to sell you their credit protection subscriptions, but just keep at it. Transunion required me to create a user name to initiate the freeze, but eventually victory was mine!! Here are the links:

A. Transunion

B. Equifax

C. Experian

D. I even learned that there is a fourth credit bureau called

Innovis

If you’d like to read up some more about all of this, here are a couple of articles which I found helpful. One is by Michelle Singletary from the Washington Post. The other is from Consumer Reports.

Are you one of the 140,000,000 who may have been caught up in this mess?

Did you learn anything about how to protect your credit, or other private information, from cyber thieves?

Hit reply and tell me. I’d love to hear from you.

Dealing with Financing

As the events of the last few years in the real estate industry show, people forget about the tremendous financial responsibility of purchasing a home at their peril. Here are a few tips for dealing with the dollar signs so that you can take down that “for sale” sign on your new home.

Get pre-approved. Sub-primes may be history, but you’ll probably still be shown homes you can’t actually afford. By getting pre-approved as a buyer, you can save yourself the grief of looking at houses you can’t afford. You can also put yourself in a better position to make a serious offer when you do find the right house. Unlike pre-qualification, which is based on a cursory review of your finances, pre-approval from a lender is based on your actual income, debt and credit history. By doing a thorough analysis of your actual spending power, you’ll be less likely to get in over your head.

Choose your mortgage carefully. Used to be the emphasis when it came to mortgages was on paying them off as soon as possible. Today, the debt the average person will accumulate due to credit cards, student loans, etc. means it’s better to opt for the 30-year mortgage instead of the 15-year. This way, you have a lower monthly payment, with the option of paying an additional principal when money is good. Additionally, when picking a mortgage, you usually have the option of paying additional points (a portion of the interest that you pay at closing) in exchange for a lower interest rate. If you plan to stay in the house for a long time—and given the current real estate market, you should—taking the points will save you money.

Do your homework before bidding. Before you make an offer on a home, do some research on the sales trends  in the neighborhood. Consider especially sales of similar homes in the last three months. For instance, if homes have recently sold for 5 percent less than the asking price, your opening bid should probably be about 8 to 10 percent lower than what the seller is asking.